National Police Memorial Day: In praise of The Thin Blue Line

News / Sun 27th Sep 2020 at 11:41am

By Michael Casey

I RARELY DO opinion pieces. I am too busy publishing the day to day chronicles of life in Harlow but I thought it was important to find time, on National Police Memorial Day, to publish a few words on the police.

I also write this piece in light of the murder of Sgt.Matiu Ratana.

My job is to be a critical friend to the police. At least I think that’s the c-word the police often use. I’m not their cheerleader and neither am I there to bobby-bash.

But at the same time, as a journalist, I get to see the police fairly close up.

There are occasions when I go into a police station to interview an officer or just for a form of briefing.

I have often left a police station and thought to myself “that officer is proud of his job, proud to be a police officer”.

It is a culture like no other. They talk about a family and they really mean it. It is only a job you can survive in, if you care. Ohh yes, you will be come cynical and world-weary and probably dismiss any accusation that you care. But you care.

I think that policing is a very hard job to do well. Sure, you can go through thirty years and plod along but to do it very well is hard.

In the seven years that I have been running YourHarlow, I have seen the dedication and hard work that has gone into long investigations. From the Bouncy Castle tragedy to The Stow killings and many others.

But there is also the community engagement from Coffee with Cops to responding to community concerns.

I could go further back, back thirty years or more and have seen the toll the job can take on police officers. I knew of cops who meant it when they told victims, “call anytime” and would take phone calls in the small hours. It took a toll on that police officers life.

I have seen officer who have never recovered from being at the scene of a large tragedy (Lockerbie) and have left the job.

I have also seen the dedication of a squad who pour their soul into an investigation. Not only for the first 48 hours but on and on and on.

Yes, there is a lot of politics in the job, as there is in many but there is a unique camaraderie.

Our police are massively understaffed and I do not believe that even with this present pledge from the government that we will get anywhere near the numbers that a town such as Harlow needs or deceives. The starting pay is also a scandal.

On a day like today, National Police Memorial Day, I think of Grampian Police Officer Mark Davey, who died on duty in 1995, aged 28.

Right, can I get back to being a critical friend now…

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